Summer outings

We greatly enjoyed our recent trip to the Stockway Nature Reserve where we met up with Valerie and Amanda who introduced us to the nature reserve, the pond and its life and the environment around it.  The children who went on this particular trip were able to do some pond dipping, with Miss Alex’s help to keep them safe.

Almost every time the net came up there was some life in it. We caught lots of newts, snails and dragon fly larvae which we put into a container. This allowed the children to observe them in closer details and they were also able to handle the newts if they wanted to.

We then released everything back into the pond to continue its life until the next time they might get caught by the next pond dipping session.

We were also taught a lot about the different bird boxes by Valerie, there are many that can be found in the reserve and we managed to see most of them, the children were brilliant at finding them and also matching them to the picture cards that Valerie had supplied for the children.

Did you know that Robin’s like to have square openings and blue tits like small round openings? The blue tit boxes had to have the openings re-enforced with a metal plate to stop the woodpeckers getting to the eggs/young. We also learnt that butterflies like boxes that have vertical slots and ladybirds’ horizontal slots.

This term, we have also managed a ‘wet weather’ trip to help the children burn off some energy at the soft play area at Scotch Horn Leisure Centre which was greatly enjoyed by all.

Dens, dinosaurs and caves in the garden…

Playing with dinosaurs and learning their names (and pronouncing them!) always prove to be popular, and in the warmer summer days, there’s nowhere better than out in the garden to do this!

Den making went to a new realm when the sun came out and we used the see-through plastic to create a den with flowers on the top. The children greatly enjoyed lying down on the grass to admire their work!

The garden is the greatest place for the children to allow their imaginations to run wild. They are always able to create and imagine different scenarios. The Den is a den one moment then a cave, followed by another child uses the car as an ice cream van, a car, and then turns it on its side and it becomes a shop. There are no bounds to the children’s imagination when it’s allowed to run free!

The children also love to help water the plants in the garden to maintain their health and growth, we currently have strawberries and raspberries growing over in the corner, alongside our herbs lemon balm, mint and fennel. We also have some tomatoes in pots that will hopefully bear fruit in the near future.

Summer butterflies

Miss Justyna hatched some butterflies from a Chrysalis with her daughter and very kindly brought them to nursery to allow the children as a group to watch the process of them being released into the garden.

In addition to the butterflies we also released some lady birds onto our Elder tree in the garden. We noticed that it was becoming very over run with aphids and with a bit of internet searching, found that the most natural way to remove the aphids was to get some ladybirds. Miss Paul consequently bought some and we put them into the tree very carefully using a paintbrush.

The children learnt that it is the larvae of the ladybird that eats the aphids not the actual lady birds. We have been watching the leaves very carefully waiting for the larvae to hatch and it didn’t take long at all.  They have been doing a fantastic job of eating the aphids, the numbers of which are greatly reduced, although we do think that some of this may also be down to the amount of torrential rain that we have had of late.

All you need is a little concentration!

In our Practical Life Room, over the last few weeks the children have been exploring texture, the difference between rough and smooth. They have been using sandpaper to do this and have found it interesting how they are able to change the texture with it. It taken time and concentration but they have enjoyed the results.

We have also been exploring a new activity using coffee beans where the children are encouraged to transfer the beans from one dish to another using tongs. It’s a lot harder than it sounds but, but they found with a bit of concentration it can achieved! Great for developing concentration and their fine motor skills.

In the window the children helped with the new display, using tools under the supervision of the teacher they hammered in nails and added screws,

Mindfulness in the nursery

In our group times in the Sensorial room we have been continuing with our mindfulness sessions which the children are enjoying. The children were encouraged to use visualisation following a story that they were told about cycling along the road using their legs and then freewheeling down the hills.

Enjoying some quiet thinking time…

During another mindfulness session, the teacher used the bell to create silence and walked around the room chiming the bell continuing the lovely calm ambience. The children were then also given the chance to be the person in control of the bell, and they walked calmly around the room amongst the others. It was a lovely way for the children to participate without becoming over energised.

Jolly phonics

Miss Alex has been introducing the children to Jolly Phonics using a variety of resources the children can access with the help of the teacher. It’s lovely to see how quickly and easily they pick this up, learning new letters each day. We are currently learning phase 1 (s, a, t, i, p, n).

With the help of worksheets we have also been practicing how to hold our pencil correctly and write our letters in lower case and upper case.

We have also been learning some Jolly Phonics songs, which help us to pronounce our sounds correctly and reading our phonics story book where we learn the adventures of each letter.

After this stage, we will move on to making words with the letters we have learnt and reading the words by using our phonic sounds to sound them out. If you’d like to know more about jolly phonics to support your child’s learning at home, please ask one of the staff!

Studio Galaxy

Following our Biome theme into outer space, the children have been using stars, sequins and spattering white paint (paint and toothbrushes) onto black card. The children have also been using poms poms to signify the planets.

Stars and Galaxies

We have found a use for toilet rolls, and tubes we have been creating fires by painting and drawing onto them. 

Into space we go…

This is in addition to the usual activities that can be found on the shelves, i.e. scissors for cutting, honing our fine motor skills, hole punching, painting, crayons, weaving etc. Allowing the creativity to run wild.

Biomes and ‘people who help us’

As the children are more familiar now with the concept of Biomes, we are using the Tropical Rainforest Biome as an example.

We are recreating this biome with the introduction of animal figurines – looking at what they are called, what they eat, where they sleep and what kind of home they have. To bring this subject to life we are also planning to source some tropical fruits and compare them with European fruit.

This top helps to widen the understanding of the world to the children with names for continents and countries, understanding the different weather and language. An opportunity to express ideas, understand the world and extend their vocabulary.

We have also been making activities and resources which reflect the people who help us in life, such as Doctors, Nurses, Surgeons, Teachers and Policemen. This has also been explored through role play situations, figurines, puzzles and card games.

Mud, balance and mindfulness in the forest

Forest School is always a highlight for the staff and children of the nursery, this summer’s outings being no exception.

The slightly wet start to the summer was an ideal opportunity to enjoy mud in the forest – glorious mud, perfect for puddle jumping and painting pictures! There was much hilarity when we poured water onto the ground to make the mud as the water feed in the forest has air pockets so lots of funny sounds followed by a surge of water which sprayed out. The children showed great strength and teamwork carrying the water containers and good balance came in handy too!

We have also greatly enjoyed using ropes strung between trees to practice balancing, walking and also learning to climb up the tree trunk.

The children also collected plants and flowers and then using a child sized hammer, we found a solid surface where the children places the flowers onto the tree trunk, put the material over the top and then gently hit the cloth with the hammer. The children wer fascinated to see how well some of the plants details transferred onto the cloth. We plan to sew them together soon and create a wonderful long piece of bunting for the nursery.

At the end of one of our recent trips we all enjoyed a moment of ‘mindfulness’ by just enjoying the end of a busy day, standing still and letting rain drops fall on our heads. Some of the simple pleasures in life which connect us to special moments with nature.

Creativity in the outdoors

In June, some of our nursery staff attended a regional meeting of Montessori teachers in Clifton. Sadly, due to the weather the workshop was indoors but this did not stop us learning about Creativity in the outdoors.

We looked at how to inspire children without interfering, and how an individual piece of artwork, can be brought together as a large connected artwork, in which all the children can contribute to the story and visual dialogue behind the artwork.

We also looked at loose parts play which offers an opportunity for the child’s expression and the bigger and more varied the collection is, the more inspiring it can be.  Many of the parts can be collected from the outdoors, with flowers, leaves, petals, stones, bark etc similar to what we do at Forest School where we collect things from the forest floor.

But it was the last part of the meeting that particularly hit a note for attendee Mandy who has been exploring story telling with the children, through story dice, games, crafts etc and Sarah OD introduced us to a book call “The Princess and the Dragon and the Helicopter” This book has lots of suggestions about how to get children telling their stories and acting them out, experiencing the delight of being an author. It is suggested that you make a little stage area with curtains for the children to act out their stores, to make them more special, as everyone claps at the end, like a real audience. We are looking forward to exploring this with the children – photos to follow!